Interlok axing a victory for Indians, says NIAT
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 17 — The government’s decision to scrap the controversial Interlok novel from the education syllabus is a victory for Indian community, the National Interlok Action Team (NIAT) declared today.
NIAT chairman Datuk Thasleem Mohamed Ibrahim said that Putrajaya’s sudden move showed it was finally ready to listen to the needs and concerns of Malaysians.
“Our findings are based on the criteria set by the Education Ministry as well as the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, where even though the novel is written by a national laureate it is unsuitable to be used in schools.
“At the same time we would like to thank Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin (the 13th Yang di-Pertuan Agong) for graciously accepting our memorandum last month.We at NIAT are confident this also affected the government’s decision,” Thasleem said when contacted by The Malaysian Insider.
He refused to say however, if the decision was due to political pressure.
“Whatever it is this is better than nothing,” he added.
Last month NIAT, together with more than a 100 NGOs submitted a memorandum to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for the scrapping of the Interlok novel from the school syllabus.
NIAT also submitted the same memorandum to the Selangor Sultan and the Yang di-Pertuan Negri Sembilan on November 19.
The novel has been used in schools throughout the federal territories, Selangor and Negri Sembilan.
The government has decided to withdraw Interlok from the Form Five syllabus when the new school year starts, with MIC president Datuk G. Palanivel saying yesterday that the Cabinet had reached the decision last week.
The novel by national laureate Datuk Abdullah Hussain is part of the literature requirement in the Bahasa Malaysia syllabus for Form Five students. It was published in 1971 and is set in Penang at the turn of the 20th century during the colonisation of Malaya by the British.
Recent controversy over the novel’s use of words deemed racially sensitive and derogatory had led to the Education Ministry sanctioning amendments to its content for the current school year while it awaited a formal decision by the Cabinet.
Human Resource Minister Datuk Seri Dr. S. Subramaniam, meanwhile, told Bernama Online that Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also education minister, is expected to make a formal announcement in the next few days.